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Who was Zhou Youguang?
Published on: 2018-01-17
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b6bfae7d57f794c w550 h220Without Zhou Youguang, the world would still refer to ‘Beijing’ as ‘Peking,’ and to ‘Chongqing’ as ‘Chungking.’

The celebrated linguist - dubbed 'the Father of Pinyin' - spent three years developing the system of ‘spelled sounds’ that is now the international standard for Romanised Chinese.

050The new system transformed China’s literacy rate, providing more natural passage into the written language, which requires mastering thousands of characters.

It bridged multiple Chinese dialects with its shared designations of sound.

Today, schoolchildren learn Pinyin before characters, and it is often used to input characters on smartphones and computers.

052Pursuing his love of language throughout his life, Youguang authored more than 40 books and translated the Encyclopedia Britannica into Chinese.

Born Zhou Yaoping on January 13, 1906, this storied linguist later adopted the pen name ‘Yougang’ because he wanted to ‘bring light’ to the world.

Google celebrates what would’ve been Yougang’s 112th birthday with a special Doodle which flips from Pinyin (Gǔgē) to Chinese characters (谷歌).

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